Fundamentalists And Ecumenicity -- By: Richard V. Clearwaters

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 02:1 (Spring 1959)
Article: Fundamentalists And Ecumenicity
Author: Richard V. Clearwaters


Fundamentalists And Ecumenicity

Richard V. Clearwaters

President of Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary

In the October 1, 1958, issue of the CHRISTIAN CENTURY this same title appeared over the name of Sherman Roddy, who served for five years as associate professor of church history at Conservative Baptist Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He was brought to the faculty by President Vernon Grounds and served under him for five years. Whether he resigned or was discharged has not been revealed. The CENTURY described him as finding Fundamentalism “utterly untenable” as he “struggled to a more liberal theological position,” and pointed out that he “has been in both camps during his career.” He is now assistant minister of First Presbyterian Church, Aurora, Colorado. The CENTURY added a sub-title, “Not the ‘What’ but the ‘Why’ of Fundamentalism is the Key to Inter-Protestant Reconciliation.”

This article reads like an outburst of feeling rather than an orderly reflection of expression. You cannot analyze a sob! You cannot analyze a jeer! Emotional outbursts are often, as this one is, confessions of frustration and weakness and pent-up resentment. The first reading makes one’s heart cry out, “Physician heal thyself! “

Sherman Roddy confesses his first impulse toward Fundamentalists, “The easiest way to deal with them is to ignore them.” Unable to find anything particularly wrong with WHAT the Fundamentalists hold, and emotionally unable to ignore them, he chooses to try to find something wrong with WHY they hold the fundamentals! He seems to find great satisfaction for his emotional resentment against Fundamentalists by having a big witch hunt for himself as he searches for bad, black motives in the Fundamentalists under the guise of WHY Fundamentalists hold these things. It is the WHAT in medicine that cures disease - WHY you take the right medicine does not keep you from getting well.

Sherman Roddy accuses the Fundamentalist, “He is at heart a victim of fear.” And again he says, “Small wonder

then that his ethics are often cruelly transfigured. A victim of fear, he starts at the slightest shadow. ...” In support of his camp under the name “New Evangelicals” and “Neo-Evangelicals” he confesses, “These men are involved in a dilemma. They must wear the old garments of Fundamentalism while changing the man within. For economic or political reasons they are reluctant to appear as friends of the enemy, even though privately they recognize the enemy as part of the Christian community. They live with a double standard.” Who could more eloquently express the fears the New Evan...

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